So you’re in a noisy bar, having a good time and someone asks, ‘so what do you do as a job?’. I feel sorry for anyone, who like me, has to respond to this question with, ‘I work in paid search’. Once you realise they did in fact hear you correctly, after clarifying ‘paid search?’, you then come to know the look of confusion on their face is actually related to the title itself. This conversation can go down one of 2 routes, you either try to explain the oh so ‘sexy’ nature of what paid search actually entails, or you can give a generic answer along the lines of, ‘I pretty much work for Google’.
So what does paid search actually involve? In a nutshell, we write and schedule ads on Google and Bing search engines. Bing not so much, call me narrow minded, but I’m pretty sure no one even uses Bing. I bet even people who work at Bing, don’t even use it. That is definitely a subject matter for another blog. Although…whilst we’re on the subject, did you know, the most searched for term on Bing is ‘Google’? Says a lot. Right, enough about Bing.
It’s not as easy as just writing ads unfortunately. There are a few rules and regulations behind these things and you’ll get hunted by the search police if you don’t adhere. I don’t just mean obvious things like no offensive language either. There are character limits, punctuation restrictions and each ad goes through an approval process. I like to think of ad copy writing as extreme tweeting, a little game of fitting a sales pitch into less than 125 characters overall (including a display URL).
Once we have these ads written, we decide when we want them to show and try with all our media might to get them to the top of the page on Google (or Bing). We decide when we want to show these ads based on keywords which people search for. For example, I’m a consumer and I’m looking to buy a new car. I type in ‘new car’ into Google. Alas, an advert for Volkswagen has appeared at the top, followed by ads for 2 other leading car companies. The position on the page is based upon how much money a particular company is bidding on the term ‘new car’. These bids are measured on a ‘cost per click’ basis. The more money you pay, the higher up the page you should be. Also, the more money you bid, the more money it will cost if someone clicks. Position does also depend on the relevance of your ad, for which you get a ‘quality score’. If you get 10/10 consider yourself an ad copy writing pro.
To avoid showing for irrelevant searches we run regular checks, a process we call ‘SQR’s’ (search query reports). These reports show us what has been searched for and has triggered an advert to show. The last thing you want, is one of your adverts for a windows company, showing when someone searches for, ‘Prostitutes in windows Amsterdam’. Believe me, it has been searched for before, I’ve seen it with my own eyes. Why does it happen? Someone has forgotten (*ahem) to negative match against the word ‘prostitute’. Therefore, the word ‘windows’ in the search term triggered the ad.
SQR’s help us pull out words to negative match against and stop our ads showing for irrelevant searches. They are always a fun task and a great insight into what people search for on Google. Let’s just say, there are some weirdos amongst us folks.
On that note, to all those reading who thought I sort of worked for Google, I’m sorry, I definitely don’t. I don’t get the copious amounts of free food, a Macbook Pro, or a slide in my office. I’m afraid to say, you were merely a victim in receiving one of my generic responses to, ‘so what is it you actually do as a job?’.